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Federal Employees News Digest : June 24, 2013
Kristi Dougherty General Manager Phil Piemonte Managing Editor Sherkiya Wedgeworth Online Managing Editor Becky Fenton Circulation Manager Nathan Abse Writer Mike Causey Columnist Edward Zurndorfer Columnist Published by 1105 Government Information Group, Anne Armstrong, President. 1105 Government Information Group is part of 1105 Media, Inc. Neal Vitale, CEO. Corporate Headquarters: 1105 Media, Inc. 9201 Oakdale Ave., Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311 www.1105media.com Office: 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500 Vienna, VA 22182-2215 Phone: Editorial: (703) 891-8554 Subscriptions: (800) 989-3363 Fax: (703) 876-5130 Internet: www.FederalDaily.com Subscription Rates: 1 year---$39 Site Licenses are available: E-mail: FENDsitelicense@ FederalDaily.com For single article reprints (in minimum quantities of 250-500), e-prints, plaques and posters contact: PARS International Phone: (212) 221-9595 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.magreprints.com/QuickQuote.asp The Comptroller General has ruled that federal agen- cies and departments may buy Federal Employees News Digest publications with government funds. This decision is No. B-185591. Federal Tax ID 20-4583700. DUNS #612031414. FEDERAL EMPLOYEES NEWS DIGEST (ISSN 1065-0970) is published weekly except first week in January and last week in December by 1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Annual subscription rate is: US $39. Subscription inquiries and customer service: Mail to: Federal Employees News Digest, PO Box 15428, N. Hollywood, CA 91615-5428, customerservice@feder- aldaily.com or call (800) 989-3363, fax (818) 487-4550. © Copyright 2013 by 1105 Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproductions or distribution in whole or part prohibited except by site license or reprint purchase. The information in this newsletter has not undergone any formal testing by 1105 Media, Inc. and is dis- tributed without any warranty expressed or implied. Implementation or use of any information contained herein is the reader's sole responsibility. While the information has been reviewed for accuracy, there is no guarantee that the same or similar results may be achieved in all environments. Technical inaccuracies may result from printing errors and/or new develop- ments in the industry. This publication's subscriber list, as well as other lists from 1105 Media, Inc., is available for rental. For more information, please contact our list manager, Merit Direct. Phone: (914) 368-1000; E-mail: 1105media@ meritdirect.com; Web: www.meritdirect.com/1105. June 24, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 47 2 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com said it was because they were superior types. Others argued that DOD front- loaded the raises to convince people it was a good system. Good or bad, NSPS was politicized by both sides and fizzled once Democrats took control of the White House. President Obama was supported by all the federal-postal unions, which pre- dicted happy days were here again. Then after one good legislative year, the reces- sion hit. The Simpson-Bowles commission appointed by the president was sup- posed to offer hard-choice proposals that Congress could vote up or down. No stalling, no political debate. But that fizzled, too, and folded---although its rec- ommendations continue to be the blue- print for plans to "improve" government from both the right and left. One recommendation of the Simpson- Bowles commission was that federal pay be frozen for three years. Unions were horrified when the White House pro- posed a two-year freeze, then stunned when Congress stretched it to three. With maybe more to come. Unions are increasingly angry (often suffering in silence) with administration plans to tone down future cost-of-living adjustments for all retirees by using a different way to measure inflation. Even the slight downward changes would, over time, cost federal retirees thousands of dollars in benefits they would never get. Although the biggest savings would come in Social Security, civil service retirement benefits and military retired pay would be hit, too. Insiders say there is a good chance that plan will happen as Republicans happily support the savings. Congress and the White House are also considering a voucher system for the fed- eral health program. It's not a new idea, but an idea whose time may have come, according to longtime observers. Currently, the government pays an average of 72 percent of the premium (more for postal workers) regardless of how much premiums increase year to year. Under the voucher system, you would be given a check for a fixed amount to buy insurance. If that voucher cov- ered the full premium, good for you. If not, you would make up the difference. Backers say it would make people better shoppers. Opponents say it would drive lower-income feds into inferior plans. Last on the political wish list are plans---backed by the White House and GOP leaders in the House---that would force federal workers to contribute more of their salary toward their civil service retirement. That would amount to a per- manent cut in take-home pay. There is no guarantee that any of the above will happen. The voucher plan and the reduced retiree COLA formula have been around for years. And they haven't happened yet. The difference, maybe, is the times. We are climbing out of a recession. Tens of thousands of people took pay cuts to keep their companies afloat and to keep their jobs. Millions of people are unemployed or underemployed. Pension plans are dis- appearing. So are company-backed health plans, especially for retirees. Three-generation families living under the same roof are at their highest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s and the war-time housing shortage of the 1940s. Things could, of course, work out very differently. This time next year, we may be speculating on the amount of the fed- eral pay raise. And the COLA for retirees. The stars are definitely realigning. We just don't yet know what that means. Which is pretty much standard oper- ating procedure! INSIGHT by Mike Causey continued from page 1
June 17, 2013
July 1, 2013